President Barack Obama on Friday said the US will not seek military action to end the Syrian civil war, but it will work with allies and partners to protect civilians and promote peace in Syria.
“We are going to have to work with all our partners and allies in the region to create the conditions that will allow us to make the necessary progress,” he said in a speech in Florida, as US allies began their annual military exercises with Russia.
“And I do not believe it is a stretch to say that we will be working with allies, we will work in all the ways we can to protect the people of Syria and our allies.”
The US and its allies have already launched a series of air strikes to support a ceasefire, but Russia has warned it would not stop its own ground offensive if the US goes ahead.
The White House says the plan will be tested over the coming days, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday the president “has confidence in our capabilities”.
“We do not want to take military action unilaterally, but we will act in a way that is consistent with our long-term national interests,” he told reporters.
Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed ways to ease tensions and resolve the war in Syria after a meeting in the Kremlin in February, but that did not result in a ceasefire.
Putin said in February that he would not allow the Syrian government to use chemical weapons, despite Obama’s earlier assurances to the contrary.